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2009 Symposium Abstracts

Morea: The Land and Its People in the Aftermath of the Fourth Crusade

Symposiarch: Sharon Gerstel

Chloumoutzi-Clarentza-Andravida: The Triangle of Power in the Crusader Principality of Morea

Demetrios Athanasoulis, Director, 25th Ephoreia of Byzantine Antiquities, Greece

Recent archaeological research in Clarentza and Chloumoutzi as well as across the various sites and monuments found in the vicinity provides us with new evidence concerning the thorough and ambitious planning of the Frankish settlement on the peninsula after 1204, the power the rising state was able to muster during the reign of William of Villehardouin, and finally evidence about the turbulent fourteenth century until the demise of the Frankish settlement in 1430. New studies and analytical approaches to the castle at Chloumoutzi (Clermont) now make it possible for one to appreciate its complex structural history and its unique architectural conception (which may originate in the French medieval tradition but also seems to have assimilated elements of the Crusader Middle East), as well as its function as the uppermost symbol of the new crusader hegemony.

In the mid 13th c., William of Villehardouin founded the city of Clarentza ex novo, following the example set by Saint Louis, King of France, who founded the port city of Aigues-Mortes. The erection of the royal castle at Chloumoutzi and the establishment of the city of Clarentza must be seen as part of an overall effort to render Morea a powerful regional hub of Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean. Through the study of archaeological findings, namely pottery, coinage and minor objects, an attempt to re-evaluate Clarentza's place between Europe and the Middle East is taking form. The sheer number of the Principality's monuments, along with the quality of craftsmanship, proves without a doubt the economic prosperity achieved by this crusader state. Furthermore, the new approach to church architecture in the Principality's realm sheds new light on the multi-faceted relations between the Franks and the native population when seen in the context of the mixed feudal society of the Peloponnese.

Mapping Melancholy-Pleasing Remains: Morea as a Renaissance Memory Theater

Veronica Della Dora, University of Bristol

In the introduction to the English version of Vincenzo Coronelli's Historical and Geographical Account of the Morea (1687), antiquarians and historians are promised loci memoriae. On the accompanying maps, the peninsula and its cities are presented as a vast epic theatre for the Venetian struggle against the Turks, echoing the glory of ancient enterprises and myths. Ancient Greek, Medieval Frankish, and modern Venetian/Turkish topographies are layered upon the eternal physical features of the peninsula. Human and non-human Peloponnesian features become what Pierre Nora named loci memoriae. Encyclopaedic systems for information storage, Renaissance maps were conceived as memory theatres, enabling the viewer to memorize recent and past events through spatial visualization. Renaissance maps (especially atlases) were also theatrical in that they set the viewer on an elevated position, allowing him a distanced view of the world as a stage for the lives, works, and salvation of its human occupants. At the time of the Venetian conquest, Morea was portrayed by Coronelli and others as an epic stage for the clash between Good and Evil (the Venetians and the Turks); a stage on which local inhabitants found little, or no place. Every map is about inclusions and exclusions. Thanks to its rhetoric of truth it naturalizes non-presences, helping forgetting through selective remembering. The proposed paper considers processes of remembering/forgetting Morea in different Renaissance cartographic traditions: transitional mappae mundi, map cycles, isolari, and commemorative medals.

Without a Scorecard: Problems and Prospects of Inferring Ethnicity from: Human Remains in Frankish Greece

Sandra Garvie Lok, University of Alberta

The coexistence of Latins and Byzantines in the Morea after the Fourth Crusade raises intriguing issues revolving around ethnicity. For the bioarchaeologist, these include the questions of whether the diets eaten by the two groups differed and whether different customs or standards of living caused disparities in health. However, ethnicity is complex and attributing it to the dead, who cannot speak for themselves, is a challenge. Although burial style, artifacts and context can provide clues to the identity of a grave's occupants, such clues may be equivocal or absent. In this situation we may turn to the remains themselves to provide an answer. Ethnicity may be inferred from genetic heritage, using DNA analysis or the study of heritable skeletal traits. Effie Barnes' work at Frankish Corinth provides an example of the latter method. Another possibility is to look at geographic origin, drawing clues to ethnicity from stable isotopic indicators of local or non-local origin in a burial group. Data for burials from Frankish Corinth, Lesbos and elsewhere in Greece provide some illustrations of how stable isotope analysis can contribute to attempts to determine the ethnic identity of cemetery populations. Because these methods infer a nuanced social category from biological indicators, they must be applied with caution and in the light of information provided by historians, archaeologists and other scholars of the era. However, the promise of gaining insight into the interplay between ethnicity, diet and health in Frankish Greece makes the effort worthwhile.

Painting the Land: City, Monastery, and Village in the Morea

Sharon Gerstel, University of California, Los Angeles

The last decades have witnessed the publication of dozens of village churches in the Morea. In this paper, I would like to examine patterns of devotion among Orthodox villagers in the Morea and to chart the relationship of these villagers to local centers, whether large towns or monasteries. Such relationships are charted in written sources but can also be documented archaeologically and art historically.

Franks and Byzantines in the Countryside

Timothy E. Gregory, The Ohio State University

The history of the countryside has always been of utmost importance in the study of the Middle Ages throughout Europe, and issues such as agricultural exploitation, land ownership, and feudalism (broadly defined), have dominated discussion of society in both East and West. In the Byzantine Empire and its successors the study of these issues has been hampered by a paucity of documentary sources, but the increasing volume of information from archaeological research has begun to fill the void. The present paper attempts a broad synthesis of conditions in the countryside in the Morea in the years after 1204, taking as a primary focus the relationship between Franks and Byzantines. It uses a landscape approach to the phenomenon and makes use of data from the broad-based archaeological survey projects that have paid special attention to the medieval period. The paper will also utilize recent work in the Korinthia, both excavation and survey, as a means to investigate the issue of settlement and use of the land, trade, and the different kinds of settlements that can be distinguished on the basis of the archaeological evidence. Attention will also be paid to the controversial topic of differentiating Franks from Byzantines and Frankish influence from Byzantine tradition in the Morea in the 13th and 14th centuries and to the broader problem of how archaeological data can be used to investigate problems such as these.

The Economy

David Jacoby, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Frankish conquest of large sections of the Peloponnese in 1205 was followed by the establishment of two Venetian enclaves in Messenia in 1207 and the return of Byzantium to the peninsula in 1262. In the following two centuries the three political entities lived side by side, with shifting boundaries between them. Despite wide differences between their respective political regimes, there was a large degree of continuity with respect to the Byzantine period in the exploitation of rural resources, the foundation of their economy. This continuity was partly disrupted by catastrophic events such as wars and bouts of plague, especially the Black Death, which resulted in demographic contraction and mobility. The latter was particularly pronounced across political boundaries. The Byzantine empire's loss of large territories to the Latins in the wake of the Fourth Crusade, which undercut the economic centrality of Constantinople, was followed by a partial re-orientation of eastern Mediterranean supply networks toward the West. The rural sector of the Peloponnese, as in other Latin territories, responded to the growing western demand for foodstuffs, wine, and industrial raw materials such as silk and dyestuffs. The increasingly market and export-oriented production in the large estates of Frankish Morea was furthered by the free movement of Italian merchants, the introduction of commercial management practices, and investments in the rural economy. Yet, in the long run the aggressive operations of western merchants undercut the vitality and competitiveness of local manufacturing. The Byzantine Peloponnese was only marginally affected by these processes and slow to respond to western commercial incentives. Nevertheless the intensification of trade, increasingly dominated by Venice, and the acceleration of the monetary flow generated a growing inter-dependence of the economies of the three political entities. The expansion of the service sector in specific ports, a major factor in that process, was decisively promoted by the firmer integration of the Peloponnese in the trans-Mediterranean trade system. The political and military developments of the fifteenth century in the Peloponnese had disruptive effects on the regional economy.

The Morea through the prism of the past

Elizabeth Jeffreys, Exeter College, Oxford University

Malgré le prestige de la civilisation antique, dont le souvenir était encore vivant dans la capitale, le Péloponnèse et la Grèce, berceau de cette civilsation, n'y jouissaient alors que d'une considération médiocre (Antoine Bon). This paper will attempt to assess to what the extent the remark made by Bon about the Morea in the twelfth century held good from the Moreot perspective in the period after 1204. A starting point will be a consideration of the bishops and governors who administered the area before the Fourth Crusade, their cultural expectations and acknowledgement of their environment whether intellectual or physical. The paper will then consider some concepts of the past, both remote (that is, classical antiquity) and more recent (that is, Byzantine), current in the Greek- and Latin-speaking worlds at the turn of the thirteenth century. Whilst focus will then be on the Morea and the literary production from within the region, moving across political affiliations and the centuries, attention will also be paid to mainland Greece (Epirus and Thessaly, and occasionally Attica). Reference will be made to historiography (Chronicles of Morea, Monemvasia, Tocco and Galaxeidi), the classical tradition (Hermoniakos, War of Troy), legal writings (Apokaukos, Chomatenos), romances (Digenis, Achilleis), lyric poetry (Prince de l'Amorée), folk-tale (The Castle of Fair Beauty), satire (Mazaris) and to travellers (Benjamin of Tudela, Ciriaco of Ancona). Finally, the probably fourteenth-century Peloponnesian 'mythoplastia' recorded in the seventeenth century by the Likinnios family of Monemvasia will be discussed as a contrast with the culturally and intellectually sophisticated awareness displayed by Pletho.

Deflating Mystra: Grounding House and Settlement

Kostis Kourelis, Connecticut College

Mystra has played a unique role in the history of medieval architecture as the paradigmatic survivor of Byzantine urbanism and domestic form. Since the seventeenth century, this picturesque ruin has fed the creative imagination of artists, poets, statesmen and scholars. Rather than providing the foundations for the archaeological study of Byzantine and Frankish settlements, however, Mystra became a mythological benchmark, a much needed heterotopia for homeless heroes like Faust, Villehardouin, Palaiologos, Phrangopoulos and Laskaris. The first part of this paper excavates the fictional stratigraphy layered upon the city's domestic fabric. As with the castles of Western Europe, fact and fiction created a provocative house of cards, an experiential version of history that deflected cultural anxieties over national identity, ethnicity, gender and social change. The historic preservation of Mystra (from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries) obfuscated the archaeological record of the medieval city. For the second part of the paper, we must hence turn elsewhere for comparative data, looking at sites whose presumed worthlessness saved them from imperial and imperialist inflation. Surveying recent fieldwork from across the Peloponnesian countryside will ground the houses and settlement of Mystra within an ecological and productive setting. Some see Mystra as the Paris of the Mediterranean, but we will consider it as a modest village.

The Architectural Layering of History in Frankish Morea

Amy Papalexandrou, University of Texas at Austin

Religious structures in the Frankish-Greek Peloponnese (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries) have long been recognized as lively and imaginative points of contact between east and west. Recent approaches have begun to avoid older dichotomies (Latin dominance versus local resistance), and a number of individual monuments are now being carefully analyzed on their own terms, as unique expressions of values (aesthetic and social) within a culturally mixed landscape. It is in this context of fresh analysis – especially the re-dating of a number of important monuments – that a group of Moreote churches become interesting for their architectural embellishment. On the one hand this includes westernizing sculpture, clearly employed to enliven walls and vaults and perhaps indicating the easy acceptance of foreign, imported trends. On the other hand we see builders and patrons incorporating ancient spolia in a very prominent and artful way, perhaps as a means to apprehend and display a distinctly local past through its material vestiges. In this paper I focus mainly on the latter trend, addressing the question of how it relates to a memorial culture that became prevalent in the region (as elsewhere in Europe) from the thirteenth century on. In the Morea this culture may be apparent in the activities of foreign newcomers, especially mendicant monks who settled in the region, but it is equally felt among the indigenous population of Greeks who were its primary inhabitants. Many of these individuals continued to found monuments, leaving inscriptional evidence that allows us to consider low as well as high levels of patronage. The incorporation of ancient materials in all spheres was significant, whether emphasized and demarcated as markers of historical identity (through framed or emphasized sculptures) or more subtly woven into a contemporary framework of personal and communal verification and protection (as old columns with new inscriptions). These various forms of re-use indicate the increasingly important role played by religious structures as repositories of local memory, this in contrast to the emphasis typically placed on imported Frankish elements in the surrounding architectural matrix.

Mystra as Mirror of Constantinople

Titos Papamastorakis, University of the Aegean

The building and decoration of both the Metropolis (cathedral) and the Aphendiko (katholikon of the Vrontochion Monastery) in Mystra date to the reigns of the first Palaiologan emperors Michael VIII Palaiologos and Andronikos II Palaiologos. The cathedral of Mystra was dedicated to St. Demetrios, the patron saint of the Palaiologan house. The first phase of decoration was carried out in the reign of the Emperor Michael VIII and the second in the reign of the Emperor Andronikos II and was commissioned by the Metropolitan of Crete and proedros of Lakedaimon Nikephoros Moschopoulos. The Aphendiko was built by the Protosynkellos Pachomios in the early fourteenth century and dedicated to the Virgin Hodegetria.

This paper focuses on the subject matter of the wall paintings in St. Demetrios that were commissioned by Nikephoros Moschopoulos, and the paintings in the south portico of the Aphendiko. The chosen subjects display a conscious attempt to construct an identity for Mystra reflecting that of contemporary Palaiologan Constantinople. The study, in particular, of the decorative program and of the extensive, carefully spelled inscriptions which accompany the wall paintings in the south portico of the Aphendiko indicates that they are contemporary with the wall paintings in the rest of the church and that this part of the church was dedicated to the Virgin of the Blachernai and the Virgin of the Chalkoprateia. If we put this realization together with the fact that the church as a whole is dedicated to the Virgin Hodegetria, then we are led to conclude that a microcosm of 'sacred' Constantinople was created in the katholikon of the Vrontochion Monastery.

The Cistercians in the Morea: Reconstructing Ritual and Libraries

Diane Reilly, Indiana University

From its origins the Cistercian order had been embraced by the minor nobility of France because of both its accessibility to a new social class and its perceived spiritual efficacy. This reputation persisted into the thirteenth century when, in the wake of the Fourth Crusade, the French noble conquerors turned almost immediately to their fellow Cistercian Crusaders, and the Cistercian foundations familiar to them in France, Hautecomb and Morimond, and requested that they send parties of monks to found daughter houses in Greece. The experience of Cistercians as colonists in Northern Europe prepared them well for life in this new frontier, and their new foundations, such as Zaraka in the Morea, soon became wealthy and powerful institutions in their own right, as witnessed by the ruins of their stone monasteries. Given their well-documented roles as agents of papal policy, diplomats, and landowners, the Cistercians of the Morea have been studied almost entirely from the perspectives of political, economic or social power. Their role as ambassadors of the learning and liturgy of the Latin Church has been virtually ignored. As their architecture attests, Cistercian settlers maintained a more than superficial allegiance to the artistic style and planning of their place of origin. The famously tightly-regulated Cistercian organizational hierarchy also allowed for a consistent set of texts and rituals to be translated over great distances and monitored from afar. Thus although the material remnants of Cistercian literary and liturgical culture in the Morea are missing, I will posit a model for their (necessarily hypothetical) spiritual and ritual practice.

Frankish Morea: The Evidence of the Acts of Private Transactions

Helen Saradi, University of Patras

Very few acts of private transactions have been preserved from the Frankish Peloponnese: the acts of notaries from Patras (1369 to mid-15th c.) published by Gerland, a couple of acts from Monemvasia and Modon, a few Latin wills, and the registry of the monastery of the Theotokos Podarea in the area of Chalandritsa/Patras (14th c.).

Latins introduced the public office of the notary to Greek territories. Latin notaries were public officers, in contrast to the Byzantine notaries who were private professionals. Consequently, their acts were publica instrumenta with the validity and authenticity of public documents and were written in the objective style on behalf of the notary. In terms of form, the acts in Latin-ruled areas did not retain the lengthy and elaborate warranty formulae of Byzantine acts. They introduced various Latin formulae (e.g. the invocation of Christ). They also combined elements from Byzantine and Latin formulae (e.g. in the dating system). Acts written in Greek preserve elements of style from the Byzantine period.

Much importance was laid on written agreements with which privileges and land ownership were granted, and on the feudal symbolic acts that followed. However, possession of ownership often took place corporalem.

The acts of notaries reveal various aspects of social life, all levels of land ownership in the feudal system, and the feudal obligations to the court. Although property value was estimated monetarily, feudal institutions reinforced a barter economy (the feudal annual tax was paid in natura). The acts from urban centers display cultural, institutional and economic links between Byzantines, Franks and Venetians. However, the acts of Podarea indicate that feudal institutions did not penetrate remote mountainous areas of the Peloponnese.

A New Lycurgus for a New Sparta: George Gemistos Plethon and the Despotate of Mystra

Teresa Shawcross, Trinity Hall, Cambridge

This paper examines the ideological preoccupations of some texts written within the Despotate of Mystra. Two short works by the thinker George Gemistos Plethon, the Address to Manuel and the Address to Theodore, are studied in detail with reference to the political context in which they were produced. This analysis, in turn, sheds light on the motivation of Plethon's more substantial, and often more overtly philosophical, writings - most notably his great Laws, of which only fragments have survived. Of particular interest is the manner in which Plethon refers to the historical and mythical past of the Peloponnese - not only the recent past of the crusades and western occupation, but also the more distant classical and pre-classical past. Plethon, as we shall see, repeatedly evoked ancient Sparta in order to provide a reference point and a model for the new state that was in the process of being built by the Kantakouzenoi and the Palaiologoi. In this, he was not alone among the intellectuals who, usually forced into exile from Constantinople, sought refuge at Mystra in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Coinage and Money in the Morea after the Fourth Crusade

Alan M. Stahl, Princeton University

Prior to 1204, the Morea shared the Byzantine monetary system, based for the previous century on the electrum hyperpyron that resulted from the currency reform of Alexius I and its subsidiary denominations. There is some evidence for minting in the region in the twelfth century, primarily in the form of imitations of Constantinopolitan base aspron trachy issues. Since the rulers of the Latin Empire of Constantinople issued no coinage in their own name, the Morea came to rely on the continued circulation of older issues and imitations; new imitations produced in Constantinople, Bulgaria and perhaps locally; as well as the occasional import of coins from the mints of exiles in Nicaea, Thessalonica and Epirus. At some point around the middle of the thirteenth century, the Frankish rulers of Achaia began to mint a petty copper coinage in Corinth and probably also Clarentza.

After the re-establishment of the Greek Byzantine Empire in Constantinople in 1261, the Frankish rulers of the Morea issued their own coinage, chiefly from the mint at Clarentza. This coinage, comprising billon coins based on the denier tournois of France, appears to have been issued in large quantities through the middle of the fourteenth century. However, the hyperperon system of account continued to be used to record transactions carried out in both the imported and domestic coinages, with 80 deniers tournois accounted as one hyperpyron of the Morea.

In the fourteenth century, the coinage of Venice came to dominate circulation in the Morea, first the silver soldino and then the base billon, overvalued tornesello, issued by Venice specifically for the exploitation of its Greek colonies. Recent research has suggested the minting of coins in the Morea by Manuel II Palaiologos, either at Mystra or Monemvasia, though probably in small quantities. Evidence from documents and coin finds points to the spread of the Venetian coinage well beyond its colonies and trade emporia to a dominant position in the entire Morea by the beginning of the fifteenth century. The hyperpyron system of accounting remained in effect throughout the Morea, but was supplemented by accounting in terms of the Venetian ducat, with a changing exchange rate from one system to the other.

The Mystra Type Revisited: Architectural and Functional Constraints

Lioba Theis, University of Vienna

Three churches at Mystra exhibit a distinctive combination of longitudinal ground plan and first-floor cross with dome which Millet called the Mystra type. These are the Aphentiko (Brontocheion), the Pantanassa, and the Metropolis (St. Demetrios). In an article of 1969 Hallensleben attempted to clarify the development of this type. In this paper I shall revisit his work in order to identify the local conditions and functional constraints that produced the Mystra type.

The primary consideration is the topography. All the churches are set against the slope of the Mizithra hill and this presented considerable problems for the architects. The first problem was that a platform had to be constructed before anything could be built. The first focus therefore should be on the substructures, which have not been closely investigated. The size of these platforms was determined by the labor involved and resulted in a vertical rethinking of possible space. The most obvious and characteristic result of this constraint is the high facade on the north side, but behind this lies a complete reshaping of the interior space, which is linked with the functional use of that space. No entrance from the south side was possible on the ground floor, and the light from the south was interrupted by the hill. Architects needed to find solutions to these problems as well.

The architects appreciated the need for enveloping structures in their solutions for the overall plan of the church. The naos was framed in an envelope of open arcade on the north side, closed flanking space on the south (closed on the hill side), and a connecting western narthex. The apses were always clear of this envelope. At the upper level the enveloping structures helped to connect the north and south chapels on the second floor. It was possible to enter the building from the north on the ground floor and on the south only on the upper floor; what remained problematic was communications within the building. This was solved at the second level by the bridging function of the west and north galleries, but there remained no internal communication between ground and upper floors. This suggests a distinction of use between ground and upper level. The problem of lighting was solved by placing a series of small windows very high in the building on the south side, and increasing the number of openings in the central cupola: where the slope was too close to the south wall, as at Pantanassa, the light from the cupola was all the more important.

Another consideration is the availability of building materials. The Mystra type required more numerous and smaller columns than the cross-in-square (six instead of four), and in these churches they are all are spolia, as are their capitals. The availability in Sparta, particularly of the smaller columns, may have facilitated the development of the Mystra type.

Useful controls with regard to the solution of the Mystra type may be found in other churches in Mystra (Peribleptos, Evangelistria), and the single example of a Mystra type built outside Mystra (Holy Apostles Leontarion). Here the issues are how other architects solved the problems of topography at Mystra, and why an architect without those problems should have copied the Mystra solution.

Hallensleben demonstrated that this arrangement was planned from the outset (rather than a sudden decision in the course of construction), by drawing attention to the ground-floor plan, where the naos is square in order to support the cross-in-square-like plan of the upper floor. What he did not consider was the overall requirements of the topography (communication and light) and the opportunities of nearby spolia sites.

Ceramics and Identity in the Morea after AD 1204: Shall the twain ever meet?

Joanita Vroom, University of Sheffield

The aim of this paper is to discuss the possible relationship between pottery finds and aspects of social identity and social change in the Morea after AD 1204. Following this fateful date, the archaeological record suggests differences between the types of pottery that were locally produced and the types of ceramics which were imported from other parts of the Mediterranean. Though the diagnosis of dates and provenances of the pottery is challenging in itself, this change in the data also raises more general questions. For instance, can we establish a relation between the shifting pattern of production and trade on the one hand, and the emergence of the new Frankish and Venetian states in Greek lands on the other? Can the new ceramics be used as indicators of a rise of new identities in 13th- and 14th-century Morea? Are specific types of (locally produced or imported) wares indeed associated with specific social or political groups? Should we keep on using the standard designation Frank­ish pottery, or is this a misleading term? Is the expression identity useable for archaeolo­gists, or is this trendy new-speak? Finally, can pottery finds give us information about some social changes, such as new eating- or dining habits in 13th- and 14th-century Morea?